6:00 a.m. April 9, 2021
A floating Noah’s Ark museum on the Ipswich seafront is stranded after being impounded by the Coast Guard.
The giant Dutch ship was due to leave the city more than a year ago.
But shortly after arriving in Ipswich with great fanfare in November 2019, he was seized by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) at Orwell Quay, opposite the Cult Cafe.
Coastguard chiefs have only just confirmed to this newspaper that the popular attraction, which has welcomed more than 15,000 visitors since its arrival, has been held up in the port for most of its 18-month stay.
The bosses said they would release the ship once it meets “appropriate legal certification requirements.” The MCA would not specify what those requirements were.
Owned by Dutch television producer Aad Peters, the Ark has delighted guests from all over, some traveling more than 500 miles from the Scottish Highlands to see it in person.
Museum directors declined to comment on the current situation.
But in a post shared on the Ark’s Facebook page in FebruaryMr. Peters wrote: “The ark must move … this Old Testament vessel with the Tree of Life and the One who brought forgiveness on board must be moving again.”
“This story has to start over soon. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any ideas, we want to walk on water again.”
Coastguard bosses say they continue to engage with those responsible for the ship.
“We won’t let you”
The £ 2.6million replica of the biblical boat stunned onlookers in November 2019 when it was towed into the marina on its first UK visit.
Shortly after his arrival, the 70m long, 9.5m wide and 13m high attraction, which tells the story of the Bible through unusual sculptures, extended its stay until March 2020.
The bosses broke the news on Brexit Day, January 31, 2020, with a striking banner adorning the side of the ship that read: “We will not leave you, we love you, we love you, we will stay with you in Ipswich” .
However, the giant arch did not leave last March as planned and the first national lockdown forced it to close between mid-March and July.
In the summer, its directors announced a further extension – this time up to March 2021 maximum.
Now, still docked at the marina nine days after the start of April, it’s unclear when the ark will leave.
It cannot go to sea without the support of the harbor tug and since it does not have its own engine, the floating museum must be towed between destinations.
The bosses of Associated British Ports, which operates the port of Ipswich, said they were working with all relevant agencies to help resolve the issue and facilitate the departure of the ark.
But he will not be allowed to leave Ipswich until the owners of the ark can come to an agreement with the authorities.
Holywells advisor Liz Harsant said the ark was a nice addition to start with with many visitors coming to see it.
But now the mood has changed and many want the ship to move forward.
Orwell Quay residents Peter and Amy said, “The ark has been here since we moved in, and we understand long before that.
“It’s not our favorite part of the landscape, so we’ve been wondering for a while when that might change – especially since we didn’t even get a chance to get on board during the pandemic.”
Fire warning issued
We can also reveal that the ark received a fire notice in February 2020 by the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Services.
It followed an inspection by the authority which revealed a number of concerns.
An “informal notice of deficiencies” was issued to homeowners who identified the work they needed to do to comply with fire safety legislation.
A spokesperson for the fire department added that the ark had closed during closures, but while it was open last summer, its owners were struggling to “come into compliance.”